Friday, November 18, 2011

An Instant TV Classic For The Ages . . .

I just watched the Bob Costas probing phone conversation with Jerry Sandusky that aired on one of his recent TV broadcasts. Great interview! Costas went at him with direct, pertinent and to the point questions about his alleged behavior in the company of pre-teen boys frolicking ("horsing around" is Sandusky's term) sans apparel in a mens' locker room shower on campus at Penn State on several occasions over the last 8-10 years. According to other charges made in this case, that was not the only location where episodes of similar activity took place.

Costas, with his aptly phrased line of questioning, draws responses from Sandusky that reveal clear indications he has not adequately acknowledged the serious nature of his inappropriate physical contact with his young victims, as described in their accusations against him. More than likely he is shielding his inner being with protective layers of denial to counter the horrific spin applied to descriptions of the man and his misdeeds.

What follows are some opinions and projections that welled up within me as I listened closely to the language and tone of voice used by the interviewee. Sandusky, the central figure of the scandalous Penn State fiasco was, after all, submitting to a very public interrogation, conducted skillfully by an esteemed mainstream news media reporter whose evenhanded professionalism added major archival significance to this man-to-man dialogue. By now it has been broadcast to a wide global audience. Great interview, this! It's also a super scoop and a laudable coup by Costas over his colleagues in the top tier of investigative reporting.

It's my opinion that Jerry Sandusky will not do well in court if he's cross examined by aggressive prosecutors. He's like a brown paper bag full of lukewarm water. The liquid will be contained for a while...but the bag will surely break! This will be in the form of a confessional spew that those accused of such heinous crimes often spill so profusely when they can no longer contain the guilt and shame that has accumulated within them. It's akin to a "Perry Mason moment" when the legendary fictional trial lawyer gets a sworn witness to crack on the stand under the stern gaze, the verbal attack and the strategic questions that skillful, experienced attorneys regularly use as they do battle in the courtroom.

This case has the potential to produce a seemingly endless stream of sensationalistic headlines in all of the media for several years to come. It could very well exceed the dramatic tabloid "coverage" of the Jon Benet Ramsey murder and investigation. A wise observer of this country's popular tastes once said, "Never underestimate the American peoples' appetite for morbid or lascivious claptrap", such as the over-sentimentalization which is often applied to the details and speculations that emerge from the murky depths of stories of this magnitude. The mainstream and fringe media will relentlessly milk this case from here forward. We can expect a flood of news updates related to Sandusky's trial, his likely conviction, then his sentencing and imprisonment. This will amount to a mother lode of topics for future news releases. Also, it would be no surprise if a large quantity of collateral stories is drawn from statements made by: victims and their families, co-workers and acquaintances of the accused, as well as a variety of experts offering opinions on the societal, psychological, legal and moral aspects of this case. Unfortunately, this will serve to distract the public's attention to and concern for substantive issues of far greater importance to a nation already troubled by the decline of its once prominent "moral authority" domestically as well as internationally.

The iconic status of the USA throughout most of the post-WWII era is now starkly contrasted with the reality of its shaken economic stability and the protracted upsurge in broad scale deviation from traditional moral and ethical standards. A growing segment of our populace attributes this systemic decline to the excessively corrupt, free-wheeling, unrestrained behavior of major US corporations. This disastrous development has been enabled by the laxity of ineffective regulatory systems that are, more or less, only nominally in place. Toothless watchdogs have no bite and they also make a slobbering mess in their token attempts to police wrongful practices. This is an overworked sham similar to the unholy linkage many congress persons have cultivated with corporate campaign contributors or lobbyists representing special interest groups.

That America has gone soft on law breakers, especially those among upper echelon business, political and community figures, is a discomforting realization that has lately occurred for a growing cadre of Americans who have been marginalized by and who are disillusioned with "the System". No wonder that vocal, grassroots opponents of current class-based inequities, that have been some 30 years in the making, are gaining more traction with the issues they raise. Their ranks grow as the credibility of their positions on the issues increases. So far, the populist movement refers to the Penn State scandal as one symptom among many that indicate the general domestic malady that now plagues the USA.

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